December 28, 2012
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This whole facebook, or indeed any other equivalent social networks, integrity debate, I was sitting here thinking about that just now as I was spreading some more political propaganda through my news feed. And I know all about the problems with having your mother or your boss seeing the same things your friends see about you, we all do, so let’s try turning it around a bit, just for the sake of examination. Let’s look at it from a different angle. Let’s forget about the whole “stalking your current or former partners” parts, and look at the more subversive aspects of it and how it could potentially change the whole social game as we know it. Yeah, I said the whole though process got kicked into motion by posting political propaganda, didn’t I?
I’m a very private person. I don’t really like people to know all that much about what I do or where I am and hence I rarely give away information on that on facebook or in real life for that matter. Some people like to inform everyone about where they are, what they are doing and what they had for breakfast, I’m not one of those people. But thanks to facebook I now have a very clear visibility on who of my friends actually do belong to that group of people. Is this a good or a bad thing? I’m not sure. But if a friend of mine posts a blatantly sexist status update it is indeed a good thing because then I can delete that person from my friends list. The same way people can do the exact same thing to me if they are offended by my political propaganda. For instance when I post things from this very blog.
Yes, we do get to know a lot more about our friends these days. And as uncomfortable as that sometimes makes me, I don’t necessarily think it’s bad thing. Because sure, we have to exercise a little bit of censorship, or rather judgement, when we post things, but I don’t actually think it’s uncomfortable or bad if people know my political views, after all they are my views and I should consequently stand behind them, we all should. We should stand behind who we are. Even to our boss or indeed our mothers. I think it’s time to stop the whole acting and trying to fit in to the norm thing, because if we could finally deal with the reality of the fact that we as humans are pretty multifaceted, this world would be so much better and life would be so much more interesting. You can actually be a hugely successful business person and still go to techno clubs on the weekend, and you can actually be on a roll in academia and still live the full gay lifestyle with clubbing and the works and you can be a great parent without having a so-called “organized life” with a 9 to five job. Theoretically you can even be pro the Occupy Wall Street movement and still work in a bank. Because we are in fact a pretty diverse species, and we are capable of having more than one side to our personality. In fact we do. All of us. And I’m not so sure it’s really doing us that much good to keep them as separate as we do. The question is if that isn’t just providing a great growing ground for prejudice. Because if you are a successful business person and your boss can’t see that your partying on the weekend isn’t affecting your work performance and should therefore be of no concern to him, he probably shouldn’t be in that job. The worst thing that could happen is that he has to question his own prejudices if he knows about your extracurricular activities. And if you’re scared you might lose your job because of your political opinion, well then maybe you should ask yourself whether you actually even want to keep that job. And yes, we all need food on the table, but we also need a spine. And if more of us put more focus on maintaining our status as vertebrae this world would probably be a lot nicer to live in. Read more of this post
May 10, 2011
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One of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me was taking me out to jump in rain puddles. I have never been as close to giving up as I was at that point in my life and that particular day was one of the really bad ones. It was in summer and there had just been a thunderstorm. We were sitting on the couch in my small one bedroom apartment and I was having repeated attacks of panic anxiety followed by endless crying. And he said: “Come on, we’re going to go jump in the rain puddles.” At first I thought “no way, there’s just no way I can do that”, but for some reason I still let him take me outside.
He led my by the hand in that tender way you do with someone you know you need to take care of, someone small and fragile. And I don’t know if it was that or the fact that I hadn’t really jumped in any rain puddles in years, but I felt just like a little child again. Like that little child I once was. The good parts of being that little child. And I started laughing. We both did. Just like two five-year olds. It was in the evening and the sun was just setting, but it was still warm. We got soaking wet and people were staring but it didn’t matter, we just kept laughing and jumping. Read more of this post
March 2, 2011
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A while ago someone asked me why I write. I have been asked that question many times. The simple answer is because I have to. If I don’t write I go insane. And as melodramatic as that sounds, it’s never the less true. I write to sort out my own head, to organize my thoughts. And that applies to anything I write, regardless of whether it’s fact or fiction. I do it to sort out my own head, to understand. This time that answer wasn’t really appropriate though, the situation called for a bit more discretion than saying it was for mental health reasons. So I had to loop it in my head one more time and when I did the other side of it became clear. I write because I believe that story telling can change the world. And that statement actually applies to the mental health aspect too. I want to understand and that’s why I write, that how my brain works. But the products of my efforts, the texts, those are just as much about getting other people to understand. By sharing what I think I hope to get other people to embrace the same thoughts, to see the same patterns. Because I really do want to change the world.
We live in an age and a culture where this ambition is somewhat frowned upon. It’s not really the hip thing to do. It’s too pretentious, too serious, not cynical enough. And at a first glance it may also seem to lack that essential element of immediate satisfaction that we seem to crave more than anything. But I don’t really have a choice. I have to keep on trying. And there is massive satisfaction in doing so. Immediate and long-term. Because it’s all about passion, about actually caring so much that you just can’t help yourself. Of course I write because I love it, I love words and I love stories, I always have. That’s one side of it. The other is the hope of actually making a difference. And I think that’s the two elements of passion: love and actually giving a shit. That’s why you do it, what ever it is you do. Read more of this post
February 2, 2011
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Today a squat is being cleared in my neighborhood, Liebigstrasse 14. It’s a house project that’s existed for 20 years and were the occupants, through negotiations with the Berlin senate, got legal tenancy agreements in the early 90s. But then, in the late 90s, big money came in and wanted to buy the house from the WBF (Wohnungsbaugenossenschaft Friedrichshain ≈ Friedrichshain Housing Association), who was the current owner. And as we all know, money talks and the house was sold. The only problem was that the people who were actually living there wasn’t he target group the new owner was looking for. He was looking to make a profit, and with his current tenants that was not very likely to happen. So their leases were cancelled. They however, had no intention of moving anywhere. As far as they were concerned it was still their house. A house they had lived in for 20 years and renovated themselves. After going through the usual rounds in the legal system the eviction was confirmed and the current tenants where to be kicked out. By force if necessary. And of course force was necessary. Read more of this post
January 21, 2011
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There’s an episode of Fawlty Towers where this phrase, “don’t mention the war”, gets repeated several times. A group of Germans are staying at the hotel and therefore Basil Fawlty, the hotel owner, who at the time is suffering from a head injury, instructs his staff to, no matter what happens, not mention World War II. I have been thinking about that phrase lately. “Don’t mention the war.” I actually think we should. We should mention the war, World War II. We should mention it a lot. Because we seem to be forgetting it. We seem to be forgetting that all of that happened right here on European soil, that this is where it started, that it was people just like us who were involved, who started it. It happened right here and it wasn’t that long ago, in a time not that different from now. We seem to be forgetting all the atrocities that took place. All the unfathomable acts of human cruelty that were conducted by regular people right here, people just like you and me.
World War II has become a symbol of evil, something we swore we would never repeat. It was a wake up call that lead us to form the United Nations and the European Union. We wanted to manifest our commitment to make sure that something like this could never happen again on European soil. Whether we have been able to completely keep that promise or not is a debatable issue, but at least we have never had a war on that scale since. So we must have learned something. But the question is what. Read more of this post
January 20, 2011
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I’m at that point in my life when people expect you to have a plan, or actually that you had a plan and that you’re pretty much there now, at the goal or at least closing in on it. As in done with your education and a few steps on in your career. And that you’ve started the obligatory family. Well, I’m done with my education but I don’t have a degree, I have just abandoned my second so-called career and I’m divorced. So I pretty much fail on all points. And yet, I don’t feel like a failure. I actually feel fine. Of course there are things I want to change in my life, there always is, but over all I’m confident that I’m indeed on the right track. To some people that statement is pretty much a declaration of my insanity, but I’m fine with that too. I accept that they have a different understanding of life than I do. I actually do have goals, but mine are a bit more vague. They don’t include a well payed job, a house, two cars, two kids and a flat screen TV. None of those things interest me. None. Not even the well payed job. I actually don’t want to be rich. Of course I don’t want to be poor, being poor sucks and I’ve had plenty of experience in that area, but all I really want is to have enough money to not have to worry about having a roof over my head and food on the table. That’s it. A place to stay and food for the day. No cars, no TV and no kids. I have been informed that this is not a socially acceptable approach to society. More than once. People often look at me with a twinge of pity in their eyes when I say this. Kind of like the way you look at the village idiot. “That poor fool.” Read more of this post
January 12, 2011
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A while ago I was at a street art fair. With an ambition to not only have a look at the art but to also write something about it I brought along my camera and a note pad. I walked around in the big hall taking pictures and making random notes trying to figure out what the hell I was going to write about all of this. What I was going to do with all of these impressions. Writing something about all of the artists was so obviously impossible, so what then? I kept thinking “what do I want to write about all of this?” And I am still not sure.
Art fairs are difficult. Just like music festivals are difficult. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed by all the impressions. At least for me. It’s at times like that I realize just how difficult it is to stay in the moment, to really process what you are actually experiencing as you are experiencing it. Even though it’s all so amazing and inspiring it just turns into a big blur of awe.
Afterwards I saw a friend of mine:
“So how was it?”
“It was rad!”
Very descriptive, huh? But that’s the problem, I find it hard to say something beyond that. Because it was rad. Obviously there were things that I liked more, pieces that I spent more time with, but as far as an overall impression goes, rad is pretty much all I can come up with. Pitiful, isn’t it?
But the plan was to write about it, so I feel I should honor the commitment I made to myself and try to come up with something more to say about it than ‘rad’. Read more of this post
December 27, 2010
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In India you see a lot of people wearing so-called traditional clothes. Colorful saris, salwar kameez, dhoti, lungi and kurta. Especially in the villages, there you see very few women wearing western style clothes. Men yes, but women no. Women wearing jeans is one of the best tell-tale signs that you are in a city. I made a casual observation about this:
“I suppose now we are in a city. You see a lot more women in western clothing here.”
“Yes, but I think it’s a shame when they give up the traditional style. The saris are so much more beautiful.”
I didn’t say anything because I’m not sure I agree. Of course the saris are beautiful, but what do they really represent? Is it really a free choice? And if so, how come you see more women making the choice to stick to the traditional clothes? Not just in India, but all over the world. How come women always seem to be the ones that have to carry the traditions? I also think the traditional women’s clothes in India are beautiful but it’s not really a relevant argument or point in this context. Especially not if you follow the observation through on a more global level. A burqa isn’t beautiful. A burqa is a prison that hinders your movements and deprives you of sensory input. The sensory deprivation isn’t applicable for a sari, but it does hinder your movements. Then again, so does high heels. Read more of this post
November 7, 2010
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Why do some musicians get worse instead of better? I have stated this as one of the great mysteries in life, and in a way it actually is. At least it’s something that I have spent quite a lot of time thinking about and discussing with my friends. It really puzzles me. How can you have a downward curve in your development as a musician? It just seems bizarre. I mean skills should improve with practice – practice makes perfect, right? Well in some cases, wrong. And why is that?
In a lot of those discussions we have come to the conclusion that it has to do with guts, bravery, staying true to yourself. And I think we’re actually on to something here. If you have a certain amount of success with an album you naturally want to repeat that success with the next album and in some cases musicians then decide to play it safe and just deliver more of the same. But art isn’t really about producing more of the same. Art is about exploration. And when you opt for the same approach the likelihood of creating something interesting drastically diminishes. Art has an evolutionary aspect in that sense, it has to keep developing in order to not grow stale and superfluous. Sticking with the known is rarely a good idea when it comes to art. Read more of this post
October 4, 2010
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“Riot – worthwhile work for everyone.” I have a t-shirt that says that. I bought it because I thought the message made sense. It was back in 2001, just after the riots at the EU summit in the Swedish city Gothenburg had happened, and I was appalled by the reactions from the general public. First there were lots of very violent demonstrations and clashes between the protesters and the police, and then a guy was shot by the police, in Sweden that’s not something that happens every day. In fact, it was pretty much unheard of. But the strange thing was that it was the protests themselves that were questioned, not what the police did. Suddenly the “fight for your right” credo seemed to belong more to the police than to the people. I thought that was scary. And i think that’s why I bought that t-shirt. To make some sort of statement about the right to protest.
So does it help? To protest and challenge the establishment? Is there a point? Yes, I hope so. I hope it helps to raise your voice when you think something is wrong. After all, that is one of the fundamental rights in a democracy, to speak your mind. As citizens we do have a right to protest. And that right should be exercised. Thankfully most of the political establishment realizes and recognizes this. But what strikes me is how few conclusions are drawn from this realization. Read more of this post